The Hopkins County Health Department and Baptist Health Madisonville are waiting for more vaccines to come in before beginning to vaccinate people 70 years old and older in the county.
In a Facebook Live update with Hopkins County Judge-Executive Jack Whitfield Jr. and Madisonville Mayor Kevin Cotton, both Baptist Chief Medical Officer Dr. Wayne Lipson and Hopkins County Health Department Director Denise Beach said both entities are waiting for more shipments of the initial dosage of the COVID-19 vaccine to come in as Tier 1A begins to come to a conclusion and Tier 1B begins.
“We have gotten quite a bit of vaccinating done,” said Beach. “We don’t have enough vaccines to begin 70-plus, so we did school staff. We had just enough to do the school staff that signed up on the original list.”
Beach said she has applied for the health department to receive more doses of the vaccine, but is still awaiting approval, adding that places like Louisivlle have not even completed Tier 1A and that more shipments are being sent there instead.
“There are several counties that have not finished 1A,” Beach said. “Louisville has not gotten Tier 1A vaccinating done. We are slightly ahead.”
Beach credited the progress the county has made to collaboration efforts between the health department, hospital and Earlington Health First.
“We will start 70-plus when we get the vaccine,” said Beach, adding that vaccinating the school personnel is an important step to getting back to full time in-person learning. “This is really important. These people need to be protected so that the children can go back to school. You have to have teachers who are not on isolation and cafeteria staff and bus staff.”
At Baptist Health, Lipson said they are also waiting for more vaccines to come in but are preparing for that moment when they can begin vaccinating the 70-years-old and older group.
“As we go on, we are waiting for the state to give us additional doses in the coming weeks,” said Lipson. “We don’t have a number as of yet, but we are reliant on the state at this point. At Baptist, we are working on phone banks to be able to give people a phone number to self schedule. We believe that there will be vaccines coming in the next few weeks, but we don’t have a number yet. It changes daily as we go on.”
Beach said the latest U.S. Census results show there are about 8,000 70-years-old and older people in the county.
“We will be using the media at large to tell them how to sign up for that once we receive the vaccines,” she said. “We will keep working until all that are 70-plus have time to sign up. We will even take our van out to vaccinate as well.”
Kristy Quinn, the Marketing and Public Relations Coordinator, for Baptist Health echoed Lipson following the Facebook Live Update saying that the hospital is waiting for confirmation that the hospital will receive more COVID-19 vaccines.
“We will begin 70-plus as soon as possible once we know the vaccine is here to do that. We will release the website and phone number for appointments when we know we can honor those appointments with vaccines,” said Quinn. “We anticipate that could be very soon and will communicate it via all traditional media outlets and social media.”
COVID-19 numbers also continue to rise, according to Beach.
The department reported 28 new cases on Wednesday with 112 deaths now reported as well. The county now has 1,060 active cases.
At the hospital, Lipson reported there were 26 patients being treated for COVID-19.
Lipson said patients in the hospital due to COVID have started to decrease.
“We saw a number of patients that were positive, but not in the hospital,” said Lipson. “We believe that was the result of Christmas and other holidays.”
“Our numbers since the holidays have wreaked havoc in Hopkins County, so please be careful if you have what you think are sinuses or allergy symptoms. Please get tested to make sure you are negative,” said Beach.
Beach said her department will also communicate their plan and stage for vaccinations across all media — including their Facebook page, their website, The-Messenger and the radio stations.
“If you have loved ones that do not have social media that are 70-plus, please communicate with them we will start notifying how we will have mass vaccination clinics as soon as we get a shipment for that group,” said Beach. “We will start putting vaccines in arms as soon as possible.”